How Fast is New Media – Faster Than Your TV Signal

I’ve heard plenty of examples about how the first mention of a news item came from twitter or facebook. In fact I’ve experienced it first hand when an earthquake hit the east coast and the way I knew it wasn’t just our building shaking was because my facebook newsfeed confirmed it as an earthquake… all within a minute after it happened.

So it’s obvious that new technology is driving the speed of communication at unprecedented rates.  Even with all of the examples out there, I was a little shocked when I heard a recent revelation that the Formula 1 website’s race data and tracking is faster than the live TV broadcast.

Faster than the TV broadcast?

Wait, hasn’t TV been around for umpteen years longer than websites (umpteen is a technical term – look it up)?  Wouldn’t the multi-generation head start mean that TV and the industries that have been built up around it would be the fastest and most cutting edge in terms of speed?

To think that a website can now be updated and provide information at a quicker rate than live TV got me thinking.  There’s nothing like a good shock to the system to help you gain some new perspective.

Some things that came to mind:

  • Maybe the TV industry got too lazy.
  • Maybe it’s because the TV pipes are sending massive amounts more data / video than a time related data field to the website.
  • How long will it be before the video online is faster than a live TV broadcast?
  • Does the TV industry care (we’ve seen how that turned out for the traditional music industry)?
  • Do we really need faster?
  • Who’s going to be the first to develop a way to exploit this differential in timing?

This also got me thinking about a TED talk I loved – Kevin Slavin: How Algorithms Shape Our World.  Check it out – all kinds of interesting tidbits about the need for speed in today’s world.  Companies are physically moving their entire operations or blowing up mountains to be closer to and connect higher speed pipes.  The difference of 1/1000 of a millisecond can mean big wins or losses in the financial world.

Between the Formula 1 stat and Kevin’s talk on algorithms it shows that technology improvements of minuscule amounts of time could be the next (or already here) big thing.

Matt Kane

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